About the author

Conrad Williams is the author of the novels Head Injuries, London Revenant, The Unblemished, One, Decay Inevitable and Blonde on a Stick; the novellas Nearly People, Game, The Scalding Rooms and Rain and a collection of short fiction, Use Once then Destroy. He lives in Manchester, UK.

All content on this site is © Conrad Williams.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Location, Location, Location

Disused mill, Southwold
Sometimes, no matter how much you'd like to render faithfully a real-life location in your story, some plot gremlin might instead force you to decide that it's not a good idea. This happened to me during the writing of Loss of Separation. Initially, the novel was to be set in Southwold, Suffolk. It still is, and people who know the village will recognise the place, but I've changed its name to Southwick. The reasons for this are twofold. First, the residents of Southwold, unlikely as they are to see a copy of LoS, let alone buy one, might not take kindly to my describing their home as a place where 'people come to die'. Second, I don't want the tourist board to start haranguing me because potential visitiors have been put off by the child deaths and rape. Third, I wanted to write a scene in a cave. There are no caves in Southwold. But in Southwick there's a doozy called Bryning's Pit.

Of course, as a writer – and as a writer of fantastic fiction – I possess a special licence to write what I like about wherever I like. In London Revenant, for example, an earthquake destroys the city and a bunch of people spend time trying to find hidden parts of the capital, insane hotspots that don't exist on the A-Z. I didn't worry too much about offending the stout occupants of the metropolis. If you've seen off the Luftwaffe and pooh-poohed the terrorists, a horror writer putting a crack through your back garden isn't going to cause any problems. But for authenticity's sake, there needs to be some consistency.

I think, as long as you treat the venue for your story with the same care as you would a character (and in the best stories, the location can sometimes be so strongly depicted that it becomes another character), readers don't mind – maybe don't even know – that your village or town or city is a complete fabrication.

Listened to: Moon, OST

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Between books

I rewrote Loss of Separation, altering certain things that just didn't chime well with me at all once I'd turned in a first draft. One character became more important, another won herself a new chapter. Other stuff, minor stuff. I handed in that revised draft on January 5th. I'm expecting proofs back from Solaris today. A quick read through and the book will go into production. Copies hit the shops in March. There's quick for you. Now comes a recharging period. I have a couple of short stories to complete this month and then I'm going to have a break. But at some point soon I want to start work on a new novel.

I have ideas for lots of projects, but nailing which one is right to do next is the trick. I have a sequel to Blonde on a Stick that I'd like to get started on, and a new horror novel connected to previous stories The Owl and Rain. I also have a book in me about growing up in Warrington in the 1970s under the shadow of a serial killer. I'd like to write a short, weird YA novel. I'd like to write a biiiig, weird YA novel. There are other ideas, sketchy, unformed, but compelling, to me at least. I have titles for them all. Some of them will be pseudonymous (no... I'm not telling you). They'll have their day.

It's my intention to try to update this blog a little more regularly than usual. So please do drop if you have a moment. Thanks for your continuing support. And best wishes for 2011.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The End

I finished Loss of Separation in room 332 of the Novotel, Liverpool, on the afternoon of Friday, 29th October. Well, I say 'finished', but now the real work begins. There are lots of XXXXXXs and instances of [insert more here], not to mention the sections that I know need to be fixed, the characters who have not enjoyed enough screen time (or had too much), problems with timelines and inconsistencies in the plot. I've come to the conclusion that novel writing is not so much about telling stories as solving problems. 

I wish there was an app for that...

The total word count (pre-edits), for anybody interested in these things, is around 85,000.

Listened to: Rain Tree Crow

Friday, 22 October 2010

Final chapter

1512 words

Listened to: The Heroes Symphony, Philip Glass

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Nearly there

2176 words

Listened to: Exorcising Ghosts by Japan

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Three days

651 words

1325 words

1065 words

That's all for now... move along. More tomorrow.

Listened to: Nine Inch Nails, The Fragile (Right)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Applying the brakes

1026 words

I'm into the last 10-15,000 words of this novel. I can feel the shape of the book; I understand its length now. I reckon I've got another 40-60 pages or so before it's finished. I've hit the climactic final stretch. The third act. The resolution pages. So why is my character taking time out to think about tender moments with his girlfriend? What is he doing? There's a crime or two to be unearthed, a tragedy to be averted (or not), a number of inevitable deaths... so why is he wasting precious time fannying around with memories? More importantly, why am I fannying around?

One of the subjects of the classes I occasionally run is to do with pace. It's important to trim your narrative of any fat that's likely to fur your story's arteries, clog things up, slow it down. We all know that. We all recognise it in the books we've read, the films we've seen; we apply it naturally to the stories we tell at the coffee point at work... But here, because of the nature of the novel, and, more importantly, the nature of the man who is telling the story, I have to allow him time to come to terms with certain events that inspire his behaviour. He's damaged. He's physically wrecked. He's mentally wrecked. He's addicted to analgesics. He can't think straight, never mind walk straight. The narrative is his, so it has to be like him: tortuous, unreliable, unhurried.

It's a risk I'm taking, perhaps, but I have to go with it until I've finished. Then I'll let the novel rest for a week or two and return to it, see if I've made an unholy error of judgment...

Listened to: Ghosts I-IV, by Nine Inch Nails